Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Pirates

Happy Birthday Roberto

Clemente_MontrealRoyals Today would have been Roberto Clemente’s 82nd birthday. While many of you know of his exploits with the Pittsburgh Pirates, did you also know that Roberto was once a part of the Brooklyn Dodgers Triple A affiliate with the Montreal Royals in 1954 ? Roberto would play 18 glorious seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-72, his career cut short due to a tragic plane crash on December 31, 1972 while trying to assist earthquake victims of Nicaragua.  Though MLB has no plans to retire the number 21 anytime soon, there are still those who feel it’s time Roberto is given the same honor as Jackie. I’m sure plenty of Dodgers fans, baseball fans, would not mind…

Throwback Thursday with Ross Porter

Recently, my longtime buddy Josh and I had a chance to hear former Dodger Ross Porter speak at the Skirball Cultural Center as he presented Baseball Stories. In this first audio Ross talks about growing up in Shawnee Oklahoma and his favorite team growing up…The Pittsburgh Pirates, and why he was a Pirates fan. 

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A Wild Wild Finish…It’s Just The Beginning…

Leading Off…

Still talking about that wild finish from what Vin called, The Wild Horse ? Baseball is a crazy game isn’t it ?…It’s no stretch when they say it’s a game of inches. If Nationals SS Danny Espinoza is shaded a couple more inches to his left that hard ground ball Puig hits up the middle gives this game a different ending huh ? A couple more inches to his left and Espinoza forgoes the dive toward the ball and instead of a mob at the plate a possible game ending 6-4-3 ends a 4 game losing streak for the NL East leading Nats and they’re the ones walking the post game victory line. Instead, the Nationals are now on a 5 game skid while the Dodgers are currently on a 6 game streak as well as winning 8 of their last 10.

A game of inches this great game is. For every line drive that finds a glove, a routine grounder finds a hole…It happens…That’s the law of averages…That’s baseball…No big deal right ? Puig keeps the rally going…Now we get runners on 1st and 2nd…Until that ground ball hit that was inches from Espinoza’s glove found more than just a hole…

 

yasiel-puig-walk-off-nationals-dodgers Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

 Nationals Center Fielder Michael Taylor, doing a bat flip ( Not that kind… ) after 1 of 5 times he would strike out ( AP Photo: Chris Carlson )

Striking out 5 times was not even the worst part of Taylor’s night. On a night the Dodgers would honor the current Nationals skipper with his own bobblehead, the frantic finish that couldn’t have been scripted by even the most acclaimed Hollywood writer…Michale Taylor’s performance Wednesday night could perhaps be the worst performance ever by a single MLB player.

My fandom for Dodger baseball and the game started in 1980. Dusty Baker was roaming the outfield for The Blue. I’m not so sure if I’ve seen a performance that was worse than what Taylor displayed Wednesday night. And yet, even with that performance, we all would trade in our bad day’s at the office for his…In a heartbeat. 

img_20160623_164222.jpgDusty Baker Bobblehead…I tend to think this looks more like Pedro Guerrero (Photo: Marly Rivera, ESPN)

Around The NL West…

The Dodgers have won 6 in a row, 8 of their last 10. Unfortunately, the Giants have been hot themselves, winning 11 of their last 12, including a just concluded 6-1 road trip. In that span, the Dodgers have gained a mere half game in the standings, finding themselves 6 back. At 41-33, only 4 other teams currently have more wins than The Boys in Blue. Not bad considering the inconsistencies our offense has endured as well as our health issues among the starting 5…

While the Rockies continue to hang around, while Zack Greinke has recovered from a slow start and another solid season from Paul Goldschmidt, the off-season expectations have not panned out for The Snakes. The Padres continue to look up at the rest of the division and may want to unload some pieces before the August 1st non-waiver deadline. I said before the season that Matt Kemp would be on the trading block and I still believe that. Known for his 2nd half of the season finishes, Kemp has actually had some decent offensive numbers to this point, going yard 15 times with 54 RBIs, ranking 4th in the NL with a modest .268 average. 

Because Kemp has been a defensive liability, something we would not have thought of in 2011, an AL team would be a good fit for him for the stretch run ( Yes folks, I’m thinking Matt as a DH, with some occasional starts in the OF). Perhaps the Astros, who have played some good ball lately, would be a good fit for Matt, especially at hitter friendly Minute Maid Park ?

Now back to The Blue. At 6 games back, the NL West race is far from over. The current 6 game wining streak, 4 of which found them pulling it off from the 8th inning on, should hopefully carry the momentum as they embark on a 7 game road trip that begins in Pittsburgh. 

As we all know, The Blue still needs reinforcements both offensively and among the backend of the starting 5. The latest talk has The Blue looking at both Sonny Gray and Julio Teheran to solidify the rotation.

On The Road…PNC Park, Pittsburgh PA

Dre_PNCPark One of 17 of the current 30 MLB parks i’ve visited, September 2005

One of my favorite parks I’ve had the chance to visit. A visit to PNC is definitely worth the hype… If you can, walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge on your way to the game. The late Pirate legend has a statue outside the left field gate that every baseball fan should view…

Dre_PirateParrot Kicking’ it with The Pirate Parrot. ” Your Bucs we’re not help against the Jints this week ! ” 

9th Inning…BELIEVE

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A 6 game deficit in June is nothing….The Dog Days of Summer is only beginning folks…

 

Drei’s 2016 N.L. Forecast

Leading Off…

Here’s what Drei had to say heading into last season…

“Since Don Mattingly took over the managerial reins in 2011, the Dodgers have improved their win total by an average of 4 games. Should that trend continue into this season, the Blue Crew should finish with 98 wins, and yet, he seems to be on the hot seat every season…It’s been 27 years now. There are enough Dodger fans out there young enough asking what was it like to have experienced a World Series victory.”

Don Mattingly guided The Blue to their 3rd consecutive division title with 92 wins, yet the hot seat never cooled, sending to a much cooler summer climate, Miami. It’s been 28 years now, and Dodgers fans of all generations are growing somewhat impatient for that October experience…

N.L. East

Two of baseball’s best pitching staffs just may reside here in the NL East. The Mets return the bulk of their starting rotation that led them to their first World Series appearance since 2000 and with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndegaard and Steve Matz ready to take on a full season, this team could be primed for another WS run. The Nationals, last year’s favorites among many of the experts to win the WS, still posses a pretty potent all-around lineup to compliment their strong rotation, anchored by Stephen Strasburg. Injuries and the lack of team unity played key roles in the Nats late season meltdown, costing Matt Williams his job.   The lineup will once again count on Bryce Harper to put up some big numbers along Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and their newest addition Daniel Murphy. It is hoped that proven skipper Dusty Baker will be able to keep this team completely focused. Dealing with players with adverse personalities is nothing new for Dusty. Let’s not forget he managed both Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent for several seasons. The Braves and Phillies, once the class of this division, could are in serious rebuild mode and could both potentially lose over 100 games…

N.L. Central

The Cubs made some key off-season moves, including the additions of Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist to an already dangerous lineup. Much of the attention will be focused on their pitching, considered to be one of the deepest with the top 3 in the rotation of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Many are picking the Cubs to not only go deep into October but to also win that big Fall Prize that has eluded them the last 108 years. This could just be their year…

The Pirates, post-season participants for 3 consecutive seasons, will be highly competitive again this season even the the loss of A.J. Burnett and J.A. Happ from their rotation. The rotation still has a top 1-2 tandem between Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. The lineup is still anchored by Andrew McCutchen, and his supporting cast with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco is pretty dynamic themselves. It may be a stretch to pick the Bucs to finish atop the Central, but a 4th consecutive post-season appearance is not out of the question. Now if they could just find a way to avoid that dreaded wild card game. The Pirates, riding their most successive run since 1990-92, may have 3 consecutive post-season appearances under their belt but two consecutive one and done’s may unfairly have Clint Hurdle in the hot seat should the Bucs fail to make a deep October run…

The Cardinals, owners of last years best record in baseball, lost starter John Lackey to the rival Cubs and will be without Lance Lynn for the season. If Adam Wainwright can remain healthy throughout the season, along with Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, both who are still young, and the addition of Mike Leake, there’s no reason the Cardinals should not be able to compete in what could be baseball’s best division for the second consecutive season. If Matt Adams and Matt Holliday can rebound from injury plagued seasons, this lineup, along with Matt Carpenter at the top, could quietly be one of the leagues best.

N.L. West

I’m not going to lie. Though I do truly believe the Dodgers will win the West for the 4th consecutive season, I am mostly going with my heart. But hey, most so-called experts rarely ever get their predictions on the mark, right ?

Much has been made of the off-season moves within the division and it is expected to be a 3 team race between the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks. The two big additions to the rivals was the addition of Johnny Cueto to the Giants, and of course the addition of Zack Greinke away from the Blue over to the DBacks, who we’re among the league leaders in offense last season. 

Spring Training has not entirely been so kind to the Dodgers, who already are beset by some health issues in the back end of the rotation. The good news, in spite of our early season worries, not every Dodger got hurt during Spring TrainingThe top 3, led by Kid K with Scott Kazmir and off-season addition Kenta Maeda, will give the Blue a formidable front end of the rotation. My concerns however are how will Maeda, coming off a solid spring,  hold up in his first big league season… Can Kazmir stay healthy and retain his 2015 form ? Can Alex Wood bounce back from his 2nd half swoon and prove to be a legitimate 4th starter ? Hyun-Jin Ryu, who missed all of last season, is expected to give the rotation a boost if he should return by mid-May at the earliest.

The outfield, even with the loss of Andre Ethier until at least June, is still pretty deep, however these questions loom…Will Puig finally display a full season of his potential ? Can Joc Pederson cut down on his strikeouts and improve upon his on base percentage ? Can Carl Crawford stay healthy enough until Andre returns ? It’s expected that Crawford and Scott Van Slyke will be platooning in left field. The infield will be a good combo of experience and youth. This lineup has the potential to put up some big numbers and could have 3 30 plus home run boppers in Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. If Puig can give us a 20/20 season, and Joc can hit somewhere in the .270’s our offense should be allright. 

So everyone expects a 3 team race here in the NL West. The Rockies and Padres are not expected to do much and there have been talks that the Friars are looking to unload some of their key acquisitions from last year, including Matt Kemp. If the Padres are out of contention by July, I see Kemp, who in typical fashion had a strong finish last season, heading to one of two possible sleepers, Seattle or Miami ( Yeah, Kemp reunited with Mattingly, playing with Dee Gordon, and Barry Bonds as his hitting coach. Hmmm )

NL Wild Card

Cubs over the Cards. Again, after this one-game elimination game is over, talks and debates will resume over an expanded WC series… 

NLDS

Cubs over the Pirates. The Pirates will finally be playing in an actual playoff series, only to be disappointed once again by everyone’s pre-season favorites. Does an appearance past the WC keep Hurdle off the hot seat ?

Dodgers over the Mets. In another closely contested series, this time, it’s OUR Boys in Blue who prevails 

NLCS

In a battle of two teams who have 97 years combined without a World Series appearance, someone finally ends their drought. Why not us ? Dodgers over the Cubs

As I’ve admitted, my pick of our Blue going all the way is for all intents and purposes, from the heart. The Blue is expected to contend once again this season. They may be banged up right now, but hey, no team goes through a full 162 game season without some dings and scratches, right ? 

World Series… A Battle of Blue

It’s been 27 years. In that time, we’ve endured 2 Bush’s, and we may be on our way toward a 2nd Clinton…. Oh yeah, it would be great if we can give Good Ol’ Vin a Grand Sendoff, right ?

9th Inning…A Tale From The Park…With KID N DREI…

20140831_164815.jpg Because Kid Marley Marlz has all that ” Kid Like ” energy during the off-season, Drei needs to take him to the park…

20140831_164829.jpg ” HEY KID ! When are we gonna come up with that Dodger song ? ” Kid Marley Marlz may call me Dre Beats, but it’s The Kid who spits out The Beats and the Everyday Blessings, while Drei, well, Drei just tells The Tales.  Hey Kid ! When our we gonna do that Dodger song ?… ‘Til The Next Episode…Close us out KID !!!

Everyday Blessings… Kid Marley Marlz

 

 

Magic Number Countdown…11… Celebrating Roberto Clemente Day…

Today MLB Baseball will be celebrating Roberto Clemente Day in honor of the late great Pittsburgh Pirate. Like Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente made his way through the Broooklyn Dodger minor league system, playing for the Montreal Royals in 1954, later to be ” Stolen ” from the Pittsburgh Pirates…

Clemente_MontrealRoyals Roberto Clemente, a one-time prospect of the Brooklyn Dodgers

ClementeBridge_VideoPicofClementeRoberto Clemente day, 9/7/2005 with the Pittsburgh skyline anchored by the Roberto Clemente Bridge…

PNC_CLEMENTEStatue honoring Roberto Clemente outside of PNC Park

Magic Number Countdown…11… Manny Mota

Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbon…

Manny Mota, the one-time pinch hit king of the Dodgers, also spent parts of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, playing alongside Roberto Clemente. In this next clip, Manny discusses playing with Roberto…

MANNYMOTA Manny Mota, the one-time king of the pinch hits…

From 42 to 21, Some Dodgers/Pirates History and a Look at PNC Park

Today would have been the 81st birthday of Roberto Clemente. In his honor, the Smithsonian Museum will be putting on display a portrait of Roberto Clemente as part of it’s ” Recognize ” series, Clemente’s life was tragically cut short on the night of December 31, 1972, in a plane crash during a trip to Nicaragua to provide earthquake relief. Though we know of his baseball accomplishments throughout his career with th e Pittsburgh Pirates, Clemente was at onetime a prospect of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Here is a reblog of a story I did about Roberto Clemente last year prior to a series the Dodgers had with the Pirates. Like Jackie Robinson, Roberto’s impact was felt not only on the field, but off the field as well, a true humanitarian. Happy 81st Birthday Roberto…

A Good Drei With Kid N Drei

The Dodgers take on the Pirates tonight in the 2nd of a 3 game set at PNC Park, with the Boys in Blue winning last night behind 7 strong innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu and some early run support. The Dodgers and Pirates are two of the most storied franchises in the bigs. Both organizations can proudly say that two of the games most influential players played for them.

Dre_JackieNRoberto Two of my favorite pieces of baseball art, honoring Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, numbers 42 and 21 respectively .

Most of you are familiar with Jackie Robinson’s story. You may also be familiar with Roberto Clemente as well, especially if you are a fan of the Bucs. But did you know that Roberto Clemente played one season with the Montreal Royals in 1954 , the Triple A affiliation of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The same organization where Jackie Robinson played before his…

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Drei’s 2015 NL Forecast

With Opening Day 3 days away, here are Drei’s NL Division Picks…

NL East

One word to describe the starting 5 for the Nats… SCARY. Stephen Strassburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. That’s a hitters nightmare. The main concern in the nations capital will be the health of the lineup. with their key players, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman playing in 100 games or less in 2014. This team is still pretty deep talent wise and should run away the the NL East…

The Marlins, notorious bean counters of the past, have made some off-season noise by signing Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year, $325 million contract extension. Their young outfield of Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich is being looked at by some as the best in baseball. This is a young team on the rise, but still behind the Nats when it comes to depth and talent. especially in the starting rotation, Jose Fernandez is expected to return to the rotation in June…

The Mets are making slow strides to respectability, but there is something to say about a rotation who’s Opening Day ( Bartolo Colon ) starter will be 42 in May. 

The Braves and Phillies, once the class of the NL East, have reversed roles with the Nats and Fish. The loss of Evan Gattis and Justin Upton wont help an already struggling Braves offense. The Phillies are a far cry from their run of 2007-11. How Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, names that could work well if every year was 2008,  are still wearing the peppermint pinstripes can only speak of other teams reluctance to deal with GM Ruben Amaro

NL Central

After going 21 consecutive seasons without a winning record, the Bucs have made it to the playoffs in 2 straight. After suffering through a long stretch of futility, one could not blame a Bucs fan for raising expectations.  Their outfield trio of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, led by Andrew McCutchen boast an highly talented outfield. Gerrit Cole looks to take over the role of the ace. The Cards are the overwhelming favorite to win their 3rd straight NL Central crown. However, there is always that one team that puts a wrench to what the bookends have to say. The Bucs have played the Cards well the last couple season, why not Pittsburgh ?

The Cards are poised to make another post-season run for the 5th consecutive season. The fact that the Red Birds biggest run producer, Matt Holliday, was 10 RBI’s short of the century mark speaks says a lot about the pitching, led again by veteran ace Adam Wainwright.

In Back to the Future 2, the Cubs would win the 2015 World Series. Well, it’s 2015, and we’re still waiting for flying cars… All kidding aside, the Cubs could be another sleeper in the National League with the addition of Jon Lester to their rotation…

Both the Brewers and Reds have too many holes in their pitching to seriously contend. The Brewers, at one point in 2014 the NL’s best team, suffered a major meltdown down the stretch and while still backed by a potent offense led by Ryan Braun, will need the pitchers to step up if they are to contend once again in the Central…

And Finally…

The NL West

Since Don Mattingly took over the managerial reins in 2011, the Dodgers have improved their win total by an average of 4 games. Should that trend continue into this season, the Blue Crew should finish with 98 wins, and yet, he seems to be on the hot seat every season…

Much was made of the Dodgers off-season moves, unloading Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, and Hanley Ramirez and in return getting Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick and Yasmani Grandal. The outfield could be loaded once again, but with Kemp gone the real estate should not be as crowded. Joc Pederson has had a huge spring and many are tabbing him as the projected starter in center field. Andre Ethier has stated he would like to start, but his salary and lack of production the last 2 seasons has been an issue throughout the league. Could there be a platoon in left field between Dre and Carl Crawford ? Is this the year Yasiel Puig shows that he truly belongs to the big stage ? 

The rotation, anchored by the 1-2 punch of Kershaw and Greinke, will once again be a huge strength. The question among the pitching will be the bullpen and their ability to get the ball to closer Kenley Jansen, a major factor to their first round exit last year…

The Padres may be the divisions most improved ball club, and the additions of Kemp, Justin Upton, and the addition of James Shields to an already highly regarded pitching staff led by Tyson Ross, could have the Friars in contention for a spot in October…

Having won the World Series now in 3 of the past 5 seasons, it seems the Giants still can’t convince the “experts” that they are contenders. When looking at their lineup, you could see why they still have their doubters. However, given their recent history and their rotation, anchored by big game Madison Bumgarner, as much as the truth hurts Dodger fans, you still cannot count the Giants out of the race. It will be interesting to see though how the loss of Pablo Sandoval affects their lineup…

Drei’s NL Playoff Forecast

Wild Card

Cards over the Padres… I’m really starting to like the one game, winner take all Wild Card format

NLDS

The Cardinals have a recent history of breaking hearts in October, but this time, Washington proves too much for the Red Birds to handle. Nats over Cards

The Bucs are going to be improved once again, and with their 3rd straight playoff appearance, Bucs fans will be partying like it’s 1992. However, the end result won’t be as drastic. The series will be close though, but don’t expect Adrian Gonzalez to reprise the roll of Sid Bream. Dodgers over the Bucs

NLCS

This really has the makings of a low scoring affair that could very well go the full 7. If the bookends have their way, all excitement will be focused on the nations capital, with Kershaw and Strassburg toing the hill. After all, the nations capitol could use some much needed positive excitement right ? Dodgers over the Nationals. This time, Kershaw comes through in the clutch….

And now, for Drei’s World Series pick ( I’m sure you know where this is going…)

World Series

At this time last season, these we’re my World Series picks i’m sticking with it. Many feel the Dodgers are an improved team from last year, while the American League seems to be up for grabs. Then again, with so much parity ( There’s that word again folks ) in baseball this season, there really is no clear cut favorite to win it all, though the Dodgers and Nationals appear to be the favorites, while some believe this to be the Mariners year. The Tigers are not looked upon by many to even win their division, however, they still do return enough of their offensive firepower to be able to contend and with practically every team in the American League playing on an even field ( At least it seems that way ), Motown should see some more October baseball.

It’s been 27 years now. There are enough Dodger fans out there young enough asking what was it like to have experienced a World Series victory. My sister, born in 1989 and soon to bring in a new Dodger fan to our family, reminds me every year of the fact she is one year removed of the Dodgers winning one in her lifetime. For the third year in a row now, Drei says it’s time… Dodgers over the Tigers

1988 1988 Fun Facts… Reagan’s last term… Bobby McFerrin’s ” Don’t Worry Be Happy” tops the charts…The Iran-Iraq war would come to an end… The Cosby Show had the #1 spot on the Nielsen Ratings for the third straight year, back when Bill Cosby, ah, nevermind…

Extra Innings…

Legendary Dodger Stadium peanut vendor Roger Owens, prior to the Dodgers final exhibition game before the Angels…

It’s time to add another ring… LETS GO DODGERS !!!

AT&T Park vs PNC Park

Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to various yards throughout my Stadium Journey quest.  Putting personal bias aside, AT&T Park and PNC Park are no doubt two of the most scenic yards I have ventured to.  So, in Drei’s book, how do they match up ?  

Both yards are very intimate in size.  Both have scenic backdrops.  Both have a sense of charm that are reflect the local culture….

In and around AT&T Park, with a Touch of Blue….

In and around PNC Park, Sept 2005…

These two yards really do rank highly in my ballpark journey’s.  Outside The Ravine, if I had to choose which yard get’s the edge for that top spot in Drei’s book of ballpark’s traveled ?  Hmm ?  I think i’m gonna have to go with a tie-breaker on this one.  Who get’s the tie-breaker ?

PNC_NIGHT

Slight edge to PNC Park.  Two factors.  The first was a hard one.  Skyline or water ?  At night, the Pittsburgh skyline, accented with the Roberto Clemente Bridge, makes for a more picturesque backdrop especially at night.  The second factor ?  Let’s just say this…  A Dodger fan just wrote this piece….

Dre_PirateParrot

Kickin’ it with The Pirate Parrot.  Hey, 2 straight October’s at PNC Park for you !!!

PNC_CLEMENTE

Roberto Clemente statue outside the left field entrance with the Roberto Clemente bridge in the back.  Roberto Clemente started off in the Brooklyn Dodger organization, playing for their farm system in 1954 with the Montreal Royals.

For You Ballpark and Other Stadium Travelers…

Here’s a couple of formal reviews of AT&T Park and PNC Park .  Need some tips on your ballpark travels for 2015 or other stadium ventures ?  Check us out at Stadium Journey for your sports themed travel tips !!!

 

Looking Back at Drei’s 2014 NL Forecast…

Yesterday, Drei here looked back upon his 2014 AL Forecast .  Like any pre-season predictions, there we’re hits, and there we’re plenty of misses.  In looking back at Drei’s 2014 NL Forecasts you will notice a little more accuracy around his Senior Circuit picks.

What Drei Said about the NL East

   ” it appears that there is no lack of pitching from the top on down the bottom. I still see this being a 2 team race between the Nationals and Braves. ”  

 “In my surprise pick, I’m picking the Marlins to finish beyond the NL East’s cellar. It will be interesting to how if NL ROY pitcher Jose Fernandez follows up his ROY campaign as he will be anchoring this young rotation. Marlins still have too many inexperience to pose a serious challenge for the division. ”  

Drei’s NL  East Projections…

Final NL East Standings…

After a slow start, the Nationals would finish strong once again, finishing with the leagues best record at 96-76.  Their strong finish would be capped off by Jordan Zimmerman’s no hitter on the final game of the season.  

I did say that the Marlins would not finish in the NL East’s cellar.  There we’re times when this young team displayed some flashes of how bright their future could be.  Season ending injuries to both Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton hurt, but both are still well into their youth, Fernandez is scheduled to be back by mid-season next year.  

What Drei Said about the NL Central…

 “The Bucs and their fans got a taste last year, now everyone in Steel City wants more, and they should. If they can add another solid bat or two to back Andrew McCutchen to their offense ranked 9th in the NL in scoring last year, the Bucs could make another serious run in October…. St Louis with all it’s depth is the favorite to win the division, but Pittsburgh and Cincinatti, the somewhat forgotten team of last season, could pose a serious challenge for the NL Central crown.”

Drei’s NL  Central Predictions…

Final NL Central Standings…

After starting off 12-20, one had to wonder if last season’s success was a mere blur for the Bucs.  However, the Bucs would finish strong, and with a 50-31 home record, would finish 88-74, taking the favored Cardinals to the final weekend of the season before finally finishing 2 games behind, making the playoffs for the 2nd straight season as a wild card.  

And Finally…

What Drei Said about the NL West…

With all the depth they have, there really is no reason to think the Dodgers will not win the division unless injuries, which no expert prognosticator, can ever predict. The starting 5 could potentially have 2 20 plus game winners in their rotation in Kershaw and Greinke, and a couple of 15 plus game winners with Haren and Ryu…”

     “Will they run away with the division ? No. I look for the Giants and DBacks to be the Dodgers closest contender, with the Padres and even the Rockies being possible sleepers to move up in the division. I still feel this is Matt Kemp’s team to lead….”

We all know the story of Clayton Kershaw by now.  Can the starting pitching get enough praise from us ?  Greinke would have another big season winning 17 games, while Ryu and a rejuvinated Dan Haren would also have solid season as well, winning 14 and 13 games each.  

I also did mention that the NL West would not be a runaway for The Blue and it was not until Game 159 of the season with the Giants in town when the Dodgers would finally clinch the NL West…

Also said by Drei back in April…

” Nothing has gone right for the DBacks this season, who currently stand at 5-18. I felt before the season that Kirk Gibson could be on the hot seat if the DBacks don’t make a run toward the post season. I’m starting to believe he may be gone before season’s end, maybe before the all-star break “

Well, I did say that Kirk Gibson would be gone before season’s end , even if the timing of his termination was rather odd, 3 days before the end of the regular season.  Why not just let him finish out the string ?  Then again, this is the Arizona Diamondbacks organization we are talking about here.  An organization who the last couple of years has had it’s share of mind boggling headlines.

Drei’s NL West Predictions…

Final NL West Standings…

The Boys in Blue head to the post-season on a roll, having won 8 of their last 10.  Everything seems to be clicking at this moment for the Blue.  If their is one concern I have heading into the post-season, it is the status of our bullpen .  It is no secret that our bullpen has been inconsistent, particularly our middle relievers.  The status of Hyun-Jin Ryu is a minor concern for me but in a Best of 5 the Dodgers may be able to get away with a 3 man rotation of Kershaw, Greinke and Haren. 

Drei’s NL Wild Cards….

Final …

After a hot start to the season, the Braves would come to a crashing halt late in the season and as a result would fire their GM Frank Wren .  The Pirates, after a 12-20 start, would turn things around to the point they we’re still in contention to win the NL Central flag on the games final day of the season.  For the Giants, it was a tale of 2 seasons, at one point having the Senior Circuits best record and a 9.5 game lead on the Dodgers.  Injuries and offensive inefficiencies would contribute greatly to the Giants mid-summer swoon, however, a mid-September run would put them in position to capture the NL’s second wild card spot.

So how do the Giants and Pirates matchup for their Wild Card showdown ?  The Pirates come into this matchup on a roll having won 18 of their last 24, while the Giants hit a rough patch during the season’s final 2 weeks.  However, the Giants do carry with them plenty of post-season experience and I do agree that the loud PNC Park crowd will not phase Madison Bumgarner as he matches up against Edison Volquez, winner of 5 straight.  Who does Drei pick to head north to DC ?

giants

I know this is not the popular choice around here, but I do feel that Bumgarner is more than battle tested having pitched in 2 World Series appearances.  However, I do expect a close pitchers duel between Bumgarner and Volquez. Does the PNC Park crowd give a repeat performance from last year’s Wild Card game ?  Oh the excitement of October…

Extra Innings…

Dre_PirateParrot I sure wish I could join this Pirate Parrot at PNC tomorrow…

wpid-20140909_185645.jpg Friday can’t come soon enough for our Rally Pet Minion Dave.  This fun loving mischivious character is excited for Blue October !!!

Dodgers…Giants…1993, 103 Wins and Not a Wild Scene In The Bay

1993.  Not exactly a memorable season for the Blue.  The 1993 Dodgers would finish at .500 , 81-81, an 18 game improvement from 1992’s 63-99 showing, their worst in L.A. franchise history and the first ( and LAST ) time the Dodgers would finish in last place since 1905.  The 1993 season would mark Barry Bond’s first season with the hated ones after 7 seasons in Pittsburgh, with his final moment in a Bucs uniform coming in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS as he was unable to throw out the speedster Sid Bream .  As the Braves would continue their yearly post-season run that would last until 2005 ( In the process dulling their fan base ) , the Pirates would go into a 20 year tailspin .  

In the meantime, the 1993 season would be the last season for baseball’s 2 division format.  That meant that even if you we’re baseball’s 2nd best team, if you we’re 2nd best in your division as well, that meant no October baseball.  Imagine a team winning 103 games and missing out on post-season play ?  Under today’s 2 team wild card format, that would be all but impossible today.

However, in 1993, one team that would win 103 games was on the outside looking in.  Yup, it was the San Francisco Giants.  Heading into the seasons final four games at Dodger Stadium, the NL West would come down between the Giants and the Atlanta Braves before divisional re-alignment took place . ( The baseball lords finally got their geography right.  When division play started in 1969, the Cubs and Cardinals we’re placed in the NL East, while the Reds and Braves we’re placed in the NL West ) .  The Giants, led by first year manager and former Dodger Dusty Baker, started the season hot behind the huge off-season acquisition of Barry Bonds.  The Giants had lead the NL West by as many as 9 games ( Sound familiar Dodger fans ? ) as late as July.  The Braves, coming off back to back NL pennants, we’re to good to fold and would eventually take over 1st place in the NL West.  The Giants would right themselves and after taking the first 3 games of the seasons final four at Chavez Ravine, the Braves and Giants would find themselves tied for the NL West lead heading into their final games of the season.  Some have called the 1993 NL West race the The Last Real Race .  In the context of today’s wild-card format, a true argument can be made of that.

So now, let Drei here take you back to that final game of the 1993 season .  October 3, 1993.  Earlier in the day, the Braves had defeated the first year expansion Colorado Rockies to ensure they would be playing at least one more game.  The Braves win would force the Giants into a win or go home situation, 103 wins and all.  Win, and the Braves and Giants play a one-game playoff the next evening at Candlestick Park to determine the NL West winner.  Lose, and the Giants, 103 wins and all, like the other 24 teams, start an early winter .  

As for Drei here, I was long aware of the fact this game meant nothing in the standings.  But for Drei and the many blue clad fans in the southland that day, this game WAS our World Series.  For the old-schoolers, this was to ease the pain of ’51 and ’62.  For us baby boomers of the early 90s, this was to ease the pain of  Joe Morgan’s home run in 1982 and Will Clark’s boastfulness in 1991 .  Would there be any dramatic finishes to this 1993 finale between The Blue and the Hated Ones ?  Hardly…

On this day, it would be the Dodgers who would do more than play the role of spoilers.  Backed by 2 home runs by Mike Piazza, who would win the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year honors, it would be the Dodgers driving a stake into the hearts of San Francisco, breaking many hearts in The City By The Bay.  Division re-alignment and the addition of the Central Division in both leagues would occur the following season in 1994, as well as the Wild Card format.  But on this day in 1993, the 103 win Giants squad would  spend the post-season like the other 24 teams, watching the post-season, much to the delight of this then 19 year old fan.  Many a Giants fans heart would be left broken… In San Francisco….  ( Is it too obvious a Dodgers fan is writing this ?) Of course our stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley would be proud to remind the folks of Northern California as she would serenade everyone with Tony Bennet’s classic tune after the game’s final out…

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Piazza being greeted at home by Tim Wallach after crushing his second home run of the game that would knock the 103 win Giants team out of the playoffs

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATT

wpid-img_3421357097977.jpeg A BIG HAPPY 30TH to The Bison !!!  Was it 2 months ago that many of you out there had a Love/Hate Relationship with Matt ?  Nothing like a great 2nd half run to quiet all doubters huh ?  As we head toward the post-season, I’ll say it once more.  This is STILL your team Matt !!!  Time for The Bison to take charge !  HAPPY 30TH Matt !!!

MAGIC NUMBER

wpid-img_16571948723949.jpeg After last night’s gut-wrenching 5-2 loss in 13 to the Giants , the magic number to clinch the NL West remains at 3.  Zack Greinke takes his perfect 4-0 record against the Giants to the mound for The Blue as he matches up against Madison Bumgarner in The Blue’s attempt to cut the magic number down to one.

GREINKE_92314

wpid-img_20140916_222740.jpg Time to Turn L.A. BLUE !!!

 

 

From 42 to 21, Some Dodgers/Pirates History and a Look at PNC Park

The Dodgers take on the Pirates tonight in the 2nd of a 3 game set at PNC Park, with the Boys in Blue winning last night behind 7 strong innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu and some early run support. The Dodgers and Pirates are two of the most storied franchises in the bigs. Both organizations can proudly say that two of the games most influential players played for them.

Dre_JackieNRoberto Two of my favorite pieces of baseball art, honoring Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, numbers 42 and 21 respectively .

Most of you are familiar with Jackie Robinson’s story. You may also be familiar with Roberto Clemente as well, especially if you are a fan of the Bucs. But did you know that Roberto Clemente played one season with the Montreal Royals in 1954 , the Triple A affiliation of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The same organization where Jackie Robinson played before his historic entrance to the bigs in 1947.

Clemente_MontrealRoyals Roberto Clemente, Montreal Royals, 1954. Imagine Roberto Clemente donning the Dodger Blue and roaming the outfield of Dodger Stadium in the 60s …

There are plenty of tributes to Roberto Clemente in around PNC Park, one of my favorite yards I’ve had the privilege to visit.

ClementeBridge The Roberto Clemente Bridge, closed off to vehicular traffic on game days so fans can walk across the river to the park…

ClementeBridge_VideoPicofClemente Paying tribute to Roberto …

plaque

ClementeStatueNBridge Statue honoring Roberto Clemente behind the left field entrance of PNC Park with the Roberto Clemente Bridge in the distance. Perhaps someday Dodger Stadium will have a statue of Jackie Robinson. In the meantime, we do have the number 42 up on the top deck …

42_RetiredNumberTopDeck

If you do want to see a statue of Jackie Robinson…

Jackie_Statue Located along the 1st base concourse at Jackie Robinson stadium in L.A.’s west side, where the UCLA Bruins baseball team plays it’s home games .

Trivia

Clemente_21footwall Why is the right field wall at PNC Park exactly 21 feet high ?

More from my past visit to PNC Park, a yard that you ballpark road-trippers must visit…

PNC_behindhomeplate What a view …

Dre_PNCPark Greetings from PNC Park, September 2005 …

Dre_PirateParrot Another one of my furry friends i’ve befriended on my ballpark travels, the Pirate Parrot. Perhaps our teams may see each other in October Mr. Parrot ?